After working all week and coming home to screaming kids each night, you’re bound to get a headache once in a while.
Normally, headaches can be treated with an OTC painkiller, some light exercise, or even a stress-relieving bath.
But that doesn’t mean you should always chalk up a persistent headache to everyday stress. If your head is constantly throbbing, your body might be alerting you to something far more dangerous.
While most headaches are completely harmless, there are a few dangerous types to keep an eye out for:
- “Thunderclap” Headache: These frequent headaches are quick and severe. In less than a minute, they can leave you writhing in pain. It’s extremely important not to ignore the warning signs of a thunderclap headache, as they may be indicative of a serious underlying problem, such as bleeding around the brain.
- Post-injury Headache: Even the smallest head injury can cause headaches. Always make sure to schedule an immediate appointment with your doctor following a head injury. Headaches caused by an injury can often be associated with a concussion.
- Headache After Waking Up: If you get a good night’s sleep, you should never have a headache when you wake up. While an early morning headache likely means you slept poorly the night before, the pain can also point to something more serious, like a brain tumor.
- Sudden Headache: A common tension headache typically builds over time. Most normal headaches do not feel suddenly intense in an instant. If you experience a sudden headache, accompanied by weakness in the face, legs, and arms, numbness on one side of the body, and difficulty speaking, this may be a sign of a heart attack.
Here are a few warning signs of a dangerous headache:
- Headache after sex or exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Headache that intensifies over time
- Headache followed by nausea and vomiting
- Headache that changes in location and frequency